Is Religion Anti-Science?

The two convey knowledge in completely different ways. To begin, “myth” doesn’t mean “lie.” It simply means that knowledge is conveyed indirectly through narrative, and that’s exactly why the stories of religion have lasted so long and impacted so many people.

Let’s think about this: Can doing enough science teach you the importance of saving?

Go ahead, think about it. I’m sure someone really clever might come up with a good anecdote, but really there is little in science that would teach us the importance of self-sacrifice of goods we could use right now, on the hope that we will have some reward later on. Science would never have come up with the question.

Religion did, though.

Let’s look at the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Atheists love this Biblical tale because it captures all the barbarity of belief, that a distant, maniacal, and very vain God commands Abraham to sacrifice the beloved son God gifted him, just to show God how much Abraham loved him. If that’s what the story was, it would be barbaric, but there isn’t much chance that it would have lasted long.

Let’s also ask this, if that was the lesson, why is there no tradition of human sacrifice in Abrahamic culture? It was rather quite common throughout the world at the time, but not with the Hebrew or those that came after, even with this story where God asks specifically for it. Why is that not a thing?

A better answer is looking at the meaning of all these elements and what it says about the culture that gave us the story.

I really want you, the reader with an open mind and a willingness to see the world differently, to take yourself back to a time before our modern civilization, before civilization at all, and think about what it was like for our cavemen ancestors. In fact, even earlier than that. Think back to a time where our species lived on the margins in the strictest of means. Every day they could die from nothing more than starvation. Now, you ask how could our more ape than man ancestor be convinced to hunt some food and not eat it right then and there, when their entire life, the universe told them very clearly to take whatever you could right now or you will surely die. You couldn’t, but that is what we did some 20,000 years ago when we started taking these ideas necessary for the evolution of man and putting them in a narrative.

We looked around and said, “You know, if I eat this now, I will live well, but if I save it, then I can live longer with less risk.” How profound is that? How monumental was it that the first person who said this somehow transcended some plane of existence that apes before him never could. They didn’t even have words for such ideas, but still managed to become more than simple beasts with a few thoughts we today would think trivial, but to them, may have been the equivalent of single-handedly inventing the Saturn V rocket, which took man to the moon (which we’ve lost the technology to build today.)

That’s important – that knowledge is gained, but also lost, as well. We aren’t all descendants of that first guy who thought of saving his fruit or the first people who thought to share resources. I’d say that even if he did have that great idea, there was still a 99% chance a lion got him, or maybe some disease. It was probably tens of thousands of people who had the idea before one survived long enough to teach others who would survive long enough to have an actual behavioral advantage from the epiphany. Just as such, the first guy who thought to share probably got clubbed to death by some jerk who stole the rest of his food. That probably happened to thousands more who had the notion. Probably, many thousands more who did learn to get along were slowed down by the effort, as are all who are first learning to be friends, to say nothing of those who invented the concept. One of them died or was a drag on the relationship, and the better off of the two bailed. How many eons passed before a stable tribe could form based on the concept of sharing?

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m telling you a story, and that’s what turned everything around for these people.

When people started telling how to survive, how to treat people, and how to view the world in the form of a story, we became something profoundly different than what we were. For two million years we wandered aimlessly, always on the brink of extinction, but then, 20,000 years ago everything started moving much faster. Our transfer of knowledge accelerated exponentially. People need to think about the fact that 6,000 years ago, there were no words. No one had any form of written language, but today we have our footsteps on the moon and people seriously believe we can have a colony on Mars within my lifetime. How amazing have the last 20,000 years been?

Now, we need to realize something. Religion did this. We saw our world and experienced what lessons it had to teach us. Then we crafted those lessons into narratives that gave us the guide by which to live our lives. The stories that impact people on deep, deep levels is what religion is and why we aren’t still living in caves.

Think back to Isaac and Abraham. Why isn’t there a human sacrifice cult in Hebrew tradition? Because that isn’t the moral of the story. It is the story about the willingness to sacrifice what you have to the unknown if you want better, and that that sacrifice has to be one of great meaning, to give up your food or your wealth, or your land to a risky future that you don’t know for sure will ever reward you back. This idea is the premise of everything from farming, where people could take seeds they could grind or eat and plant food, and even more so when they gave up their best crops for the seeds they bore, evolving the food we eat today. Just as much, this idea of sacrifice is the premise of modern-day saving, investing, and finance. Imagine the culture that could encapsulate that idea in metaphor, to pass on in a moving enough way to their descendants thousands of years later. Our students in school can barely sit through a Sciclassroom room they are paid to go to. Ask them if they remember any of it 10 years later. Good luck, but here we are 6,000 years later still wired for doing the wise thing of saving what we can, investing it in the unknown in a hope of future returns, talking about a culture that… for some reason… is still impacting our lives today.

Think about the original stories, the first stories of religion even beyond the Judeo/Christian tradition. Go back as far as we have records, to the time of the Ancient Sumerians, where the hero god-king slays a mighty dragon which was born from the sea to create the land and all the people. You think there is no significance to those metaphors?

The God-King, Marduk, born of gods, possessed many eyes and spoke magic words. He was born a powerful man from a powerful family, literally gods, and from this, we see that we obviously knew that children are greatly influenced by their families and that if you are a bad parent, your children and your line will also fail. He also had many eyes, which has long been narratively synonymous with wisdom, that someone with great vision is one who can see far off into the future, meaning that Marduk didn’t simply have many eyes, but that he was wise and knew many things. He also didn’t speak magical incantations but could say things that moved people in ways that others couldn’t. Sound familiar?

Or the dragon born from the sea. Do you think there is any reason why so many myths from the world feature the great evil as resembling a snake? Don’t you think that there is something deep-seated in our mind about the innate evil of serpents that is captured in these metaphors? Go back 80 million years and ask our rodent ancestors what they thought of snakes and you’ll find a very ancient and very primitive part of our brain that still fears them long after we became the master of slithering things. Now make it huge, give it wings, and make it spit fire. The dragon is pure and unadulterated fear, hardwired into our minds.

But even more amazing is what neuroscientists discovered later, that the part of your brain that is triggered by fear of snakes is the same part which is wired to ignore things we know we need to do, things that begin as something simple, but then grow into these overwhelming beasts that devour our lives. So every story you’ve ever heard about dragons since the beginning wasn’t some imaginative tale, but a deep, almost innately, understood strictly human narrative urging us to acknowledge our deepest fears and conquer them.

But why the sea? Long ago in narrative the sea symbolized chaos, not the type of chaos of high stress, but the unknown from whence everything came. It was a place of great creation, but also fear, because no one could know how far it went or how deep it went down. It was to them endless and unknowable, which made it terrifying. It was at the same time a source of endless potential and endless calamity and destruction.

So what does the hero do? He slays the dragon from the sea, creates from the corpse of the dragon that which makes all of our lives possible — the land. He creates order.

So the first story wasn’t just about a cool quest or even a creation myth to explain a universe in possibly the weirdest way imaginable. Let’s look at these metaphors, so complex that people of the age couldn’t have possibly understood why they felt the way they did, but they knew how they felt, and knew what needed to be taught, and through the power of narrative, told a story. It was a creation story, but quite honestly, no one then cared about that. They wanted to teach something far more important to the lives they lived then.

The story of Marduk was a story to teach men how to behave.

The story of Marduk is not a creation myth, but one of a wise and charismatic leader who confronts his fears, and defeats the chaos in the world around him and creates order for himself and for others. This is the quintessential text of how to be a man. So important, that the Sumerians kings had to always compare themselves to Marduk and ask if they were good. It’s also no surprise that once myths like these became widespread, the Sumerians rose up to become one of the first civilizations spanning multiple cities and lasting for centuries.

There is a reason that myths work as well as they do. They are stories built on many layers of understanding from the conscience to the subconscious, to the instinctual to teach lessons in ways that make them necessary for new people to survive. Science can’t do that. It can titillate our senses with the grandeur of new insights, but science doesn’t affect us in the way these old stories do. It doesn’t convey meaning to the world, give us direction as people, or in any way tell us who we are, what we were, who we are going to be.

And no, no it doesn’t. The moment you try to make science do these things, you’re personifying that which isn’t human. You’re giving character to data. You’re building layers of meaning above raw facts. To make people care about Science, you have to do it by telling stories, and conveying knowledge through narrative. You don’t believe me? Consider the apocalyptic overtones attributed to climate change, the gravitas and mystery of the black hole, or the vast and unknowable scope of the universe, both immense and small. Take Carl Sagan, one of the most famous scientists of not so long ago. He wowed the world with explorations of the universe and then terrified us with omens of “nuclear winter”, where dust and fallout from nuclear war would blot out the sun and lead us to a new extinction event. It’s odd this was so compelling, no? This image of nuclear winter combines the burning of the world by the fire of Biblical Revelation and also the freezing of the planet not unlike the religion of the Norse. Powerful themes, so powerful we still believe in this idea of nuclear winter even though it was proven that all the bombs in the world couldn’t cause the types of years of devastation Sagan predicted. Even in the 80’s, we knew that in the worst case scenario we could have a Nuclear Autumn, of the world a few degrees cooler for a few years. Still, the idea of Nuclear Winter remains to bring fear to children, to teach them how to live, and to guide our leaders.

While real scientists do their work well, the ambassadors of Science are little more than great clerics of a mythology that doesn’t look backward, but forward.

This isn’t a complete dismissal of Science. Good scientists even agree with the sentiment. Just ask them how hard it is to get published, especially when scientific journals only really want to publish findings that are “groundbreaking”, “revolutionary”, or “highly controversial”. If we are playing the work of good scientists, then most of what you do is boring and what is to be expected, however try to get a paper published that proves something no one cares about or one which has no political incentive to anyone, and the big one, one which disproves another discovery. There are whole journals which exist to doing nothing but provide a venue for scientific works which are examining the findings of other scientists, the fundamental act of Scientific research… because no one would read them. The problem of bad science becoming social norms is even worse and explored at length by one of my favorite scientific YouTube channels, Veritasium. Is Most Published Research Wrong?

And have you ever tried to request funding for a research grant? Better bring the wow factor there too.

But while we continue with our P-hacked essays self-selected for their ability to wow the readership of science journals more than their ability to inform us on the nature of our world, and when only the most terrifying or awe-inspiring of this break out to touch us in the broader culture, usually through some post-apocalyptic thriller marketing itself as a “warning of a possible future”, rather than a “warning of science-based horror fiction run amok”, I have to ask… why are people so critical of religion for being the misleading institution?

And that’s also something worth noting. Science is progress, no? Science marches on, but can science alone predict the destruction of those who wield it carelessly? Don’t forget about the creation of narratives. Science can’t do that alone. Science only records things we see. That’s it, that’s all it does. The moment you try to make a story out of it… you’ve just created a work of fiction.

But religion does this quite well, giving us lessons against our own destruction and a caution against recklessness. Or do you think it coincidence that every great civilization has a Flood myth? It isn’t just the Abrahamic religions that believe in something like an ark. It’s interesting, don’t you think, that every religion has this same story, one which is perhaps 10,000 years old. I believe even India has a myth of the entire planet covered with water, and all the good people escaping to canoes to survive the waters and rebuild the world. Let’s not forget what waters mean, the chaos and the unknown. Did these civilizations experience some great war, famine, disease? Who knows, but they knew to be afraid of losing themselves. It is a story of caution, not just as individuals, but of whole societies from the disaster of losing their way; too much progress, as it were.

At the heart of this question, is a controversy — Creationism vs Science.

It picked out one of the most extreme cases in religion to justify a belief of all religions. The above image is, therefore, somehow representative of Religion, as in religion with a capital “R”. Literally every religious person on the entire planet falls under that description. Now, normally the creationist people are matched with evangelical Christians. Well, here I am a guy who argues for evolution, the Big Bang, carbon dating, and can probably explain most of these better than your average person who just loves their science. But I am also as Southern Baptist as they come.

So why is that such an extreme minority of extreme people are allowed become representatives of a much broader culture, even billions of people? We’re willing to call that out when other people do it. Look, you can point to creationists and say they represent all of us. I can point to Stalin and say that represents the other guy. If we are claiming the moral high ground here, I win with the guy who believes man and raptors hunted side by side rather than the guy who hunted down Christians and murdered tens of millions of people.

That’s because there are many people who know nothing of the sciences they preach. They don’t care. To them, “Scientism” is just the religion they choose because on some level they simply hate religion. This is especially true of Christianity. Anything which can make it easier to belittle the other rather than acknowledge what they bring to the table is much easier than respecting the fact that they survived and evolved civilization for thousands of years, even created the Scientific Method, not in spite of their beliefs, but because of them.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself to explain the fine-tuning argument.

As science allowed us to rid ourselves of the creation myths and “God of the Gaps” explanation for why things happened, we started to see that throughout our universe, the whole universe, every part of it followed certain laws which did not change and which the universe itself required to remain so that it could exist. Some of these constants were things like C, the speed of light. The speed of light through a vacuum is always 299,792,458 m/s, never more, never less. It isn’t like throwing a baseball on a train, you can’t add the velocity of one to the other. C is always C and nothing else. But there are others.

  • N, the ratio of the strength of electromagnetism to the strength of gravity for a pair of protons, is approximately 1036.
  • Epsilon (ε), a measure of the nuclear efficiency of fusion from hydrogen to helium, is 0.007: when four nucleons fuse into helium, 0.007 (0.7%) of their mass is converted to energy. The value of ε is in part determined by the strength of the strong nuclear force.[13]
  • Omega (Ω) is the relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the Universe. It is the ratio of the mass density of the Universe to the “critical density” and is approximately 1.
  • Lambda (λ) describes the ratio of the density of dark energy to the critical energy density of the universe, given certain reasonable assumptions such as positing that dark energy density is a constant. In terms of Planck units, and as a natural dimensionless value, the cosmological constant, λ, is on the order of 10−122.[15]
  • Q, the ratio of the gravitational energy required to pull a large galaxy apart to the energy equivalent of its mass, is around 10−5.

None of these sound like big deals but imagine a world where the electron rested some distance farther from its proton core, where the speed of light was different, where gravity itself was more, or less powerful. It wouldn’t just be that we would float away. Our universe would cease to exist as we know it. More importantly, the Universe would never have come to be at all.

  • If N were significantly smaller, only a small and short-lived universe could exist.[12]
  • If ε were 0.006, only hydrogen could exist, and complex chemistry would be impossible. If it were above 0.008, no hydrogen would exist, as all the hydrogen would have been fused shortly after the big bang.[10]
  • If gravity were too strong compared with dark energy and the initial metric expansion, the universe would have collapsed before life could have evolved. On the other side, if gravity were too weak, no stars would have formed.[12][14]
  • Lambda (λ) is so small that it has no significant effect on cosmic structures that are smaller than a billion light-years across. If the cosmological constant were not extremely small, stars and other astronomical structures would not be able to form.[12]
  • If Q is too small, no stars can form. If it is too large, no stars can survive because the universe is too violent.

Virtually every fundamental law of the universe is one which cannot change or else life itself would not be possible, much less a life where you and I could sit around debating if it happened at all. This is the Anthropic principle or the argument for a Fine-tuned Universe. It suggests that (not a scientific theory) the level of complexity, interrelatedness, and overwhelming chance required to create a universe where the evolution of a thinking sapient entity was not a chance event, but a foregone conclusion that would definitely eventually happen, suggests something greater than the Universe itself. It suggests that some thinking, planning entity structured those laws to allow such a universe to be created. To put it another way, when Sir Issac Newton began studying astronomy, he suggested that the uniformity of the planetary system is proof that someone chose to make it that way.

This isn’t science, but it does shake up many of the notions that science disproves God, however, atheism offered its own anti-scientific notion to counter it.

This is where multiple universes come in. The concept of the multiple universes theory suggests that our Universe is nothing special, but one of many universes, an infinite number of universes actually, in which the laws so happen to work for us to live as we do. The other universes are out there, but they function under different laws and are outside of our view, as any means we have to study them would be built instruments of this universe, and could never be made which could experience anything outside of it, nor especially something of a different universe with laws fundamentally different than our own in every way.

Simply put, let’s review why we have a hard time proving God.

We have no means to observe or measure something which exists beyond our physical universe and which functions under different laws than our universe, or as Christopher Hitchens, one of the “Four Horsemen of Atheism” said:

“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

Exactly the same argument can be levied against this idea that beyond our own is an infinite number of other universes that just so happen to not be so nice and which we can never detect nor disprove. So it isn’t that I don’t think the Multiverse is cool, especially when my favorite superheroes do it, but it isn’t in the slightest what good scientists would call Science. I mean, you can continue to believe it, but I just don’t have that kind of faith.

Here’s the bottom line, religion is not about disproving science. It isn’t about proving anything. Religious texts are not scientific texts meant to explain the universe as it is. They are moral texts created to help people lead better lives. Maybe they are divinely inspired guides by an all-knowing benefactor, or maybe they are simply the wises meditations of countless generations filtered to such a fine degree that they impact on us on deeply profound levels. Either way, science and religion are not at odds, and once the science and religion camps accept this truth, then both will lead happier and more productive lives. Furthermore, religion will no longer feel the need to be something it isn’t, while Science can finally deal with the reality that it simply doesn’t have all the answers, and maybe shed a bit of the arrogance when it starts accepting how many of the answers it does have are simply wrong.

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What does it mean to take the red pill?

From the point of view of conservatives, more new age right-wing populists who haven’t thoroughly been exposed to the theory behind their beliefs in the form of conservative writers, “red-pilled” is the period of realization where they start viewing the world differently due to some great political realization. A common experience, a person who doesn’t really have much of a political experience, but has been the target of political action, whether it is being involved or very near an activist cause that had little justification or that they made some opinion statement and suffered the social media backlash from politically minded left-wing radicals, colloquially known as Social Justice Warriors (SJWs). Following this, they usually enter a period of isolation where they are afraid to speak up openly and start to feel the effect of “gaslighting” (where numerous people try to convince you are crazy or hold irrational beliefs.)

Then you run into something, some news story, some video, or some event, that makes you aware that your experiences are part of a pattern of behavior by the SJWs, or more broadly the progressive left, where others like you have felt the same pressures, and the same irrational hatred you experienced, and finally, that there are many others who feel the same as you do and share your views.

That is the red pill moment.

This is when you realize that many of the narratives around various forms of oppression simply aren’t true. Some have credibility, but often the sources are worth exploring, and through the raw data is usually true, the facts don’t point to the conclusions the activists say they do when weighed with other information. Often, there are far more rational and evidence-based explanations for inequalities in our world then that hate explains everything and we must outlaw people’s thoughts or ban those the activists deem as haters.

Mostly, you learn that speaking out about this will get you attacked by people with deep-seated agendas to support the narratives, whether they are true or not. This opens your eyes to the reality that if there are structures which exist to repress people… that is one of them — a complex of doctrines and activists which actively promote narratives of oppression while actively seeking to repress arguments against them by vilifying those who make them rather than through open debate. Then you’re left realizing how much you’ve been missing out on all long.

From then, you start questioning everything and find many new sources, many that bring current events into question from a very different point of view. I would recommend Ben Shapiro, personally for anyone who might be at this point and looking for those new sources of information. As you learn, the more the majority of the “SJW” worldview falls apart at closer analysis.

For context, “the red-pill” phrase began to have a more concrete political meaning than “a moment that I realized something big (i.e. any random epiphany)” inspired by the movie the Matrix, came from men’s rights movements. Arguing that there are many inequalities facing men especially — the “death gap” of higher mortality of working men, the inequity in divorce settlements, the media ignoring issues of men’s health such as prostate cancer, settlements, often unjustly having no access to their kids after separation, the perception of guilty until proven innocent following rape accusation, and simply many other issues that are never addressed in an environment where the overriding narrative is one built on feminist narratives of a history of systemic repression of women’s rights. That evolved into criticisms of modern Third Wave, or intersectionality feminism which began around the 1990’s as simply furthering a message about an established and mysterious patriarchy which exists to marginalized women. One noted champion of this notion — Christina Hoff Sommers, a feminist activist for many decades who believes that the goals of feminism have been achieved in the United States and that the goal of feminism should now be bringing equal rights to women in other parts of the world.

It was furthered with the movie “The Red Pill”, a documentary by a feminist who wanted to show the world how stupid and evil the men’s rights activists were. She literally said that was her motivation, but once she made the movie and was really forced to listen to them, she confessed that it had completely changed her view on the subject.

Since that point, “The Red Pill” idea has mushroomed out to a series of smaller movement of similar criticisms of various Progressive and Intersectional movements. Many who “take the red pill” gravitate to the Right, where they either find a home with right-wing populist groups or with mainline conservativism.

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Egalitarianism and Why Fair isn’t Fair

I don’t know of any conservative who even wants a system that is egalitarian.

I know. I see so many of you good people clutching for your pearls, but egalitarianism, in the strictest of meanings is a horrific way to live.

First, let’s consider one law which more people need to understand — Price’s Law.

Derek J. de Solla Price was an efficiency expert who studied the behavior of organizations, and among his most important findings was something later called “Price’s Law”.

Price’s Law says that 50% of work at a company is done by a small number of people. Specifically, it says that 50% of work is done by the square root of the number of employees.[1]

What means is that if you have an organization, be it a company, government, club, church, or even sports team, half the tasks needed to be done will be done by the square root of the total population of the organization. This includes work like managerial and administrative, which (can) work as force multipliers for efficiency in getting other tasks done. So if you have a club of 9 people, 3 of them are responsible for half of everything done. To be clear, this isn’t a true law of economics, but a very good rule of thumb, as all of us know those people in an organization that if they disappear, the whole place would fall apart. This gets more extreme the larger an organization we get, a company of 10,000 people – 100 people are responsible for half the work, 1,000,000 people – 10,000 (an example of this is the military, where extremely competent officers are required to leverage the fighting capabilities of many, many warfighters.) But what about the whole of the United States? At around 320,000,000 people fully half of the tasks done which we all require to remain viable as a nation is done by only 17,888 people.

Obviously, this isn’t talking about physical labor. Simply put, one individual’s labor can’t be stretched that far, but people who create work, opportunity, and make it possible for more work to be done, those are the people in the 17,888. We’re talking about people like Mark Zuckerberg, who through the invention of Facebook, transformed the way we communicate together; Bill Gates, who changed the way we work; Jeff Bezos, who is in the middle of changing the way the world buys goods in no way different than when Sears Roebuck started shipping out catalogs to take advantage of the railways. We are also talking about elected officials like Governors, Senators, and the President, whose decisions can either help or hinder the efforts of millions to get work done.

What Derek Price was actually trying to figure out wasn’t who the best people were, but why companies fail. By showing that there were people who did a far outsized proportion of the work, either by physically doing it or through their efforts, making it get done, he showed what happened when those people left.

When companies begin making poor choices, the choices that weigh on these individuals more than others, they often leave to pursue better opportunities. Promoting someone into their place doesn’t often solve the problem, as this involves training costs and ignores the problem that talent, education, and drive are important features necessary for the success of an individual in their given role. So what Price was studying were companies in the midst of their best people abandoning a company on the road to failure after a few bad choices, which then led to a complete and unavoidable collapse.

The moral of that story is that we aren’t all equal. There are those of around who are far, far more useful than all the rest of us, and if we don’t provide some reason for them to stay in that role, they will leave.

Just as much as the inverse of these people.

Look toward any manager you know. You know what? Forget managers, look to your own experiences. Ask yourself if most of the time isn’t invested in the bottom 10% of employees under their charge. Either it is trying to drive them to meet expectations, or fixing their screw-ups. Expanded out, we also know that most societal problems come from the bottom 10% of any group, whether we are dealing with outsides disbursements in charitable aid, crime rates, or unemployment. Now, here’s the big problem… if an organization, be it a company, university, or the country don’t create systems that keep and grow those high performers, then they will lose them, but nothing such organizations do will get rid of the bottom 10% who bring with them most of the problems. The problems won’t diminish when things get bad, but the problem solvers will leave. That’s the sort of cascade failure Derek Price sought to study and ultimately solve.

So the real moral of the story is that people aren’t equal. Some cause huge problems far outweighing the rest of us, while others fix problems in ways that far, far, far outweigh the rest of us.

Given that, an egalitarian distribution of resources is a disastrous model as society benefits when those who do the most are given the most power to do more.

Some people might call this “maintaining the status quo”.

Well, let’s look at that status quo from the perspective of the bottom.

The poorest people in America have access to clean running water, which places them better off than 80% of the planet. They live in a country where crime has been declining steadily for over 30 years. They have a car, a TV, and a smartphone. They have air conditioning. They have access to the internet and the information to do just about anything with it. They have free education up to the 12th grade, and through numerous need-based college grants, most can qualify for a two-year degree or trade certificate for with no other qualification than family income. In fact, in the United States, a person living today lives a better life than any human alive 100 years ago, and 99% of those living 50 years ago. And here’s the big one…

In most countries, the poor are defined by starvation. In the US, the poor are identified by obesity. Why? Because they can afford the calories necessary for their survival, but they can’t afford expensive nutritious food, planned diets, and gym membership fees of the more affluent. What a monumentally amazing time and place we live where the poor people are fat instead of starving.

Such a reality begs mention of one of history’s greatest progressive presidents and his famous words on the measurement of progress.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

If we are comparing the world that many egalitarians want, it would not be better for the poor. That’s why demands for egalitarian redistribution models which are aimed at helping the poor are either lying to you or lying to themselves. They are not aimed at helping the poor. What we have, the status quo is the single best model 10,000 years of civilization to help the poor, as evidenced by the lifestyle of our poor as compared to the poor of everyone else’s.

No, egalitarians don’t love the poor. They simply hate the rich.

Conservatives, however, want everyone to equally have the same path to prosperity and keep what they earn to give it back to society by whatever means they see fit. We’ve seen through the narrative of history and proof of research that this is by far the better system not just for them, but for everyone… poor included.

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In Defense of the Indefensible: Gerrymandering

What would you like the map of electoral districts to look like? Like this?

Okay, well let’s just lay that grid over a place like New York.

Perhaps this map is more useful. 

Oh… wait. It seems that none of the squares have the same number of people. So should they all get the same representation? Well, okay, but maybe we should zoom out.

Oh. Wow, it seems that some forms of inequality are just inescapable. Let’s just go back to New York.

Here’s an income distribution map of New York.

Here’s a racial distribution map.

Then there is Crime.

School distribution.

Where do all the Millennials live?

Where is there stuff to do?

Are you getting the message yet?

People are very, very different, and there are no clean, clear-cut lines that can square us off into just the right club of voting groups. We all have different needs and put together with all our neighbors, our neighborhoods all have different needs than any other neighborhoods. Perhaps the worst way to divide us up would be a perfectly simple clear cut square.

Can you imagine how horrific it would be to place one of those perfect lines dividing one black community in two, but which centers those same two grids over two different white, or even Indian, Hispanic, or let’s have fun, Albino communities? Let’s take the last example of the Albinos. There could be absolutely no hate or race-related issues present in that community at all, but they would completely dominate the political spectrum for their district because the line on the map divides the other community, whatever they are in two. On the upside, everyone in the community is provided with lots of sunscreen while the black neighborhood missed out on another education bond.

What’s worse? Nothing is set in stone, as these populations and their needs change all the time.

Okay, so literally night and day don’t matter that much, but places are changing all the time, and this page mapping the changing gentrification of New York City neighborhoods over a 20-year span proves it:

Mapping The 20-Year-Long Gentrification Of 5 NYC Enclaves

So whatever map we draw today… isn’t going to be good 10 years ago to service the people who live inside of it.

So let’s look back at that map again. The Grid.

You still think it is a good idea? Do you think it actually helps anyone? So what do we do? We draw funny looking lines around districts of people we think will have common interests. How do we do it? With really weird maps of dragons.

Yes, amplify this out to the state level and the two competing parties draw lines around groups in ways that they believe will allow them to secure a victory and help their constituency… in theory. It’s a weird and ugly process, often involving corruption on both sides, and often leaving many people in a lurch, but like most things in government… all the other ideas suck worse.

Now, you may think that this post is only about the need for redistricting, and not actual gerrymandering. Sorry, but to me, they are identical. Call me cynical, but I think that virtually all of our district lines are the result of some level of manipulation for the benefit of someone, both sides, and at all levels. If there is a line drawn somewhere in the sand, then I am sure someone did some politicking at some point to put it there.

What’s worse? I still feel this is that this is the best system. Note that best isn’t always good. Sometimes the best is just better than all the worse options. So why do I think this works? Let’s look at the other options.

A few brought up impartial judges or some impartial third party to draw the lines. Where is this mythical creature of which you speak? Who do we know of reputable note with no political affiliations, biases, or loyalties, either known or unknown? I’m sorry, but the world simply doesn’t work that way. People have their beliefs and all will be corrupted by them to act in a way that will favor one team over the other. Sorry, but whenever I hear, “Let’s appoint an impartial third party,” I scowl and ask who’s paying that third party’s checks.

“But an algorithm. That could work.” Have you looked into Google? You know how they fired an employee for his views that they told him to give? Or the way that Youtube started demonizing and filtering all those conservative channels in the last year? Or what about the people who asked Amazon’s Alexa, “Alexa… who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” “Jesus Christ is a fictional character.” I’m a rather religious person, so I don’t want to hand over my political future to someone who casts me as a worshipper of Pinocchio or Moby Dick.

Oh! Or here’s a big one, what happens when whole districts are based off whatever metrics the programmers deem important (and only those). Hmmm… and all black district. There are words for that… segregation, institutional racism, literally a ghetto. I could go on. Eventually, the computer is going to factor some things with regard to crime, education level, income level, property values, religious persuasion, number of children per household… whatever, and the little program we wrote to solve all of our problems… is going to be the most hatefully prejudiced thing in the world, at least by our current standards. I promise you, everyone is going to hate it, and for very, very good reasons.

Sorry, but an algorithm is just as corrupted as the mind of its creators, and that could be through overt biases or even incompetence. Actually, incompetence is the wrong word… arrogance. Arrogance is the word for someone who believes they can write a program that will pool all people into ideological bubbles without even asking them about it.

So why is gerrymandering, in all its hidden forms, the best?

Because at least when people are fighting to get you in their district… someone is fighting for you. They think you are someone who can actually help them, so they want to work for you. The way they do that is trying to get you on their map. And in a democracy, that means that everyone matters. And they do that in the shadiest of ways, but the fact is that they are trying to get you, and that means that they are going to try to serve you better than the other guy. In the end, that means the system incentivizes your elected officials to care about your specific neck of the woods… rather than the richest 3% of your grid square. You see, it’s the competition that makes it work, the low down, dirty, nasty, cutthroat competition. That’s the only way that you get that other 97 % to be relevant because the clever politician made them into a dragon to devour the people who prevent them from progressing.

Yes, of course, there is cheating. It’s cheating when someone draws lines specifically to break up certain voting blocs. Just ask the Kurds, the millions of people who didn’t even get their own country thanks to Sykes-Picot and possibly history’s ugliest case of gerrymandering, but overall, it’s the best we’ve got.

Thank you for reading. Please like and follow The War Elephant. If you want to help me make more content like this, please visit my Patreon Support Page to learn how. All donations greatly appreciated!

My New Book – Rust and Bones

For those of you who enjoyed my series on surviving the apocalypse, I’ve written hypothetical inspired an ebook novella – Rust and Bones.

Rust and Bones

Forty years after a global apocalypse, four hundred survivors fight off extinction. When their convoy of salvaged trucks and scrap parts rolls into yet another temporary home, what they find may mean the end of their desperate nomadic way of life forever. If they leave, they will face a slow death on the road, but they stay, it could mean annihilation to the murderous marauders who inhabit the valley. Torn between their military commander’s quest for the safety of his people and the First Matron’s desire for a real home, they will face brutal choices and sacrifice in their struggle for the fate of those they lead. Will they fight or will they “Hide and stay alive”? Will either choice bring peace and an end to their exodus, or will they forever wander a wasteland of rust and bones?

If you’re into apocalypse fiction and have been a fan of my military answers in the past, I invite you to enjoy my new book over the Thanksgiving Weekend. You can purchase your copy for $5.99 here: Rust and Bones eBook: Jon Davis: Kindle Store

I’ll also be answering questions about the book next week, so if you have any questions about Rust and Bones (2017 book).

***To my Patreon Patrons – If you’re one of my Patreon patrons, don’t worry about purchasing a copy. If you check your messages from me via the patreon messaging system, you’ll see a link to a pdf of the book. Like with all my works, this is a free bonus to say thank you to the people who make it possible for me to keep writing. If you’d like to support and get access to free rewards like these, as well as keep me writing, please visit my Patreon Support Page to learn how. All donations greatly appreciated!

If Diversification of Thought is a Good Thing, why Dismantle the Alt Right?

Once realize that the Alt Right is made of many different factions with different motivations and different ideas, we realize that some of the groups are good and worthwhile, while others are toxic and can work to radicalize the others in toxicity. The ideologies can be broken down into separate parts, the majority of which are decent and benign. From there, those decent ideologies can be integrated into public discourse again through civil fashion, while the hateful ideologies can be isolated.

The purpose of isolation for the hateful groups is to prevent fundamentalization.

Fundamentalization is a process I’ve described in other areas and is not a religious term or something unique to any particular ideology. It is a process where people are able to convert others into a manner of thinking incapable of rationalizing with others who disagree. They follow darker and darker paths eventually leading to extremism. The White Nationalists (who are already fundamentalists and extremists in nature) and other such factions in the Alt Right have the ability to fundamentalize the rest of it, if those groups aren’t separated and reintegrated with the rest of public policy discourse.

The reason for this is that when decent and benign ideas are shamed, their ideas are pushed underground. They feel isolated and angered. But in the underground they discover others who are like minded and share their views with others who have more information. Then, when some great shift in society happens, such as resurgence in free speech culture, they come blasting out. This is part of what happened with the rise of the Alt Right.

The problem is that when you force legitimately fair people making arguments you don’t like underground, they don’t just meet others like them who share their ideas, but also others who have been forced underground… for legitimate reasons. Case in point, the White Nationalist groups.

The way we prevent that, we have to have open debate. People have to be invited to take part in discussions and open forums, they have to be shown respect along with their ideas. They can’t be made to feel bullied or like they are on trial with a mob at their doorstep, waiting for them to say the wrong thing. There can’t be a wrong thing to say. At that point, they feel heard and respected and will be open to accepting when they are wrong. You might even realize sometimes they have a point, now that you don’t see them as evil. Then we have the process of Free Speech, where the best ideas rise to the top, and the worst ideas sink to the bottom and we all move on from there.

So that is why dismantling is necessary. We preserve the decent ideas, as well as the bad, but separate the groups by reintegrating those that aren’t hateful into our own. This prevents them from becoming dangerous extremists through fundamentalization while preserving their ideas in a way which the general public can grow. By having open discourse with the rest of the Right and the Left, they will be able to break away from the hateful ideologies of those factions in the Alt Right, and we may be better off for including those factions I referred to earlier as benign and decent, but which have thus far been isolated and angry.

Summary on Dissecting the Alt Right


It should be obvious now my stance on the White Nationalists and Trolls, as well as that I disagree with much of the line of thinking of many groups in the Alt Right. As someone who would probably easily be described by some as a George Bush Neo-Conservative, by others a Constitutional Conservative, or by many of the Alt Right as an “Establishment Republican”, I wouldn’t fit well into much of the Alt Right if I tried, but I do see a need for discussion and reaching a point of mutual understanding with much of the Alt Right to prevent the sort of radicalization that will make them the dangerous force we are seeing them turn into. I’d like to believe that discussion could help mitigate the violence we saw across the country following the Charlottesville protest. Let’s be honest, there will never be an end to hate anywhere in the world, but cutting them off from attention and resources, means that they may exist, but they don’t have to affect our lives.